The tweet was written. Twice. One slip of the fingers and the Foran Lions would’ve been reported as Class L softball champions, prematurely.
You don’t expect to be stunned when the undefeated team rallies to win in its last at-bat in a state final. But there we were.
Foran couldn’t close out Masuk. Ashley Fedor came up with two runners in scoring position. One hard grounder up the middle, and they were no longer in scoring position, and Masuk was Class L champion.
It’s really hard to comprehend. Foran led 2-0. Masuk had a runner on first, but Foran had two out in the bottom of the seventh. Foran got a ground ball; Foran made an error. Foran got a fly ball; Foran made an error.
And then Fedor got a hit, and there were no more plays to make. Like conference rival Oxford*, Masuk had itself a title without ever making that 21st out.
“It’s nuts,” Fedor said. “We’re at a loss for words.”
So were we, until we were told she’d said something before the rally, and then she told a pretty good story that framed the game story. So, thanks.
It’s unfair not to start with Tatum Buckley, because until that rally — which could’ve ended on a Buckley ground ball to second — that was about to join the greatest efforts I’d ever seen in a losing cause. If Masuk catches a two-out liner in the seventh, Buckley pitches a no-hitter in the state final against a Foran team that can, wind blowing in at Biondi Field** or not, rip the ball.
After that two-out liner was dropped, Gina Georgetti, once thought out for the year, blooped in the Lions’ only hit all day. Ashley Mendillo scored. Georgetti took second on the throw, which, one more hit or a couple of funky plays later, could’ve produced a 3-0 lead. But Buckley got a strikeout (No. 6, and her first since the first time through the order) to end the inning.
“Tatum bears down in situations,” Fedor said.
“That’s what makes her Gatorade Player of the Year.”
And then Brittany DaMota started the comeback with her second hit. “It’s a matter of putting the ball in play,” Masuk coach Jacqui Sheftz said, “and good things are going to happen.”
Good things did happen, albeit twice barely.
“There’s something to be said for the pressure that has been put on this team all year long,” Sheftz said. “Twenty-six wins. You’ve just got to get one more. Sounds easy.” It surely wasn’t.
But in the end? “I’ve never had so much fun coaching in my entire life,” Sheftz said. “I’m just so happy for this team right now.”
On the other side were a lot of stunned faces. Jeff Bevino said all the right things. He asked if there were two outs. There were, indeed. “I’m just sad for the girls,” he said. “This is a tough loss.”
But not all that long afterward, there was this:
Can’t forget we made it this far, proud to be a lion, to have the opportunity to play in these amazing games, and play with amazing athletes
— fallon (@fallonbevino) June 12, 2013
True, that. Fun team to watch.
Still, at the game’s fifth scheduled time, on its third scheduled field, it was, finally, Masuk’s day.
*-The town will honor its champions on Saturday, by the way.
**-There were balls that the wind seemed to play with, to blow out of play a time or two. But unlike the SCC final, there was only one ball that looked and sounded to me like it had a shot to be a homer off the bat that stayed in the yard, a blast by Masuk’s Kyla Cannon to lead off the bottom of the fifth. One batter later, the wind seemed to help hold up DaMota’s liner, which became the first hit for either team.